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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349017426

Price: £9.99

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‘Intelligent, witty and stylish’ INDEPEDENT

‘Everyone’s appetites will be satisfied’ ELLE MAGAZINE

‘Waters is an author to cherish’ GUARDIAN

Celebrating five decades of the feminist publisher, each of the Five Gold Reads represents an iconic moment in Virago’s history, from the 1970s to today.

Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl – I knew it at once! – that I had ever seen . . .

Sarah Waters’s debut, a delicious reimagining of late-Victorian life, chronicles the adventures of Nan King, who begins life as an oyster girl in the provincial seaside town of Whitstable. Her fortunes are forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer named Miss Kitty Butler.

When Kitty’s career takes a glittering turn, Nan accompanies her to London as her dresser and secret lover, and, soon after after, dons trousers herself to join the act. But this is only beginning of Nan’s adventures, in a novel that follows her through heartbreak, recovery and steamy sexual education, and sees her finally finding friendship and true love in the most unexpected places.

‘It’s a rare pleasure to discover a writer as assured as Waters’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘A first-class storyteller’ EVENING STANDARD

‘Sarah Waters, quite simply, is one of our greatest writers’ SUNDAY EXPRESS

‘Waters’ persistent picking apart of class is fascinating’ OBSERVER

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Reviews

An extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit in a skilled, multi-layered pastiche of the lesbian historical romance
Christina Patterson, Observer
Delectable... written in roguishly lilting prose filled with the sights, sounds and stenches of London street life
Seattle Times
Richly entertaining... Waters's debut offers terrific entertainment: swiftly paced, crammed with colorful depictions of 1890s London and vividly sketched Dickensian supporting characters, pulsating with highly charged (and explicitly presented) erotic heat
Kirkus
Glorious... an exceptional debut
Boston Globe
Waters is an extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit. This is a lively, gutsy, highly readable debut
Observer
Intelligent, witty and stylish, the novel re-imagines a lost lesbian history through vivid sensual detail, evocative period slang (the title is a sexual euphemism) and a satisfyingly complex plot
Independent
Erotic and absorbing... Written with startling power
New York Times Book Review
An unstoppable read, a sexy and picaresque romp through the lesbian and queer demi-monde of the roaring Nineties. Imagine Jeanette Winterson on a good day collaborating with Judith Butler to pen a Sapphic Moll Flanders. It's gorgeous
Independent on Sunday
This could be the most important debut of its kind since that of Jeanette Winterson
Daily Telegraph
Wonderful... a sensual experience that leaves the reader marveling at the author's craftsmanship, idiosyncrasy, and sheer effort
San Francisco Chronicle
Compelling... readers of all sexes and orientations should identify with this gutsy hero as she learns who she is and how to love
Newsday
This lush tale fearlessly and feverishly exposes the political, social and sexual subversions of Victorian-era gender-benders: sapphists, libertines and passing women... Waters is a masterful storyteller... Nancy's search for love and identity is a raucous, passionate adventure and a rare, thrilling read
Publishers Weekly